I was "talking" with an old high school friend of mine via facebook today. We were talking about babies first. She has a baby boy due soon and even though I am done having kids, I live vicariously through my friends. If it weren't for Matt's good sense, we'd have several more kids by now. She very sweetly complimented us on our "unique" family. . . "Yes, you guys sure have your hands full but you both are obviously such loving parents to take on all you have. Your children are a blessing and it seems like you have one great, happy family! I always love to see pics!"
We do have a great happy family. In spite of all it's idiosyncrasies and dysfunction. I replied with a gushing discourse about how great my kids are but more than that, how wonderful my husband is and what a perfect partnership we have in our crazy life.
Matt and I have been through a lot. I don't know what other "normal" marriages go through but it seems like our last 15 years have been pretty nutso and really, the odds have been against us from the beginning. We did things wrong.
1) We were too young. I was only 20 when we got married. Not even old enough to legally buy myself some champagne to celebrate. Matt took me out for my 21st birthday in snow that was nearly waist deep and then made me scrambled eggs with cheese. Matt was only 23. Too young.
2) We didn't know each other long enough. . . or maybe know each other at all? I met Matt in June of 1996 when he was dating a girl I went to high school with. I was dating Matt's room mate. Things didn't work out in either of those relationships so Matt and I started seeing each other the first week of September of 1996. We started talking about marriage about 2 weeks into the relationship. He proposed to me by the middle of October (a month and a half later.) We got married October 29, 1996. Yeah. That was fast!
We then moved away from everyone I knew to get a fresh start in Arizona. By February, we'd left the frozen North for everything hot and prickly. We lived there for 5 years while Matt was finishing school. Two kids later, he graduated and decided to join the Army. I moved back "home" to Washington and lived down the street from my parents while he went to basic training, then AIT. When we finally were reunited as a family 8 months later, I realized that the man I'd gotten used to as my husband was gone. He'd been replaced by an evil doppleganger! By this time, I was 5 months pregnant with what I was about to find out was conjoined twins. (conceived on his Christmas vacation for all those mathematicians)
The Fisher House. ( I just realized that we're in the video that's on their page. Check it out) We lived in a suite of two rooms and a bathroom for 6 months while the babies were in the NICU. Then they died. We moved again, this time across town while we struggled to adjust to life with empty arms.
Shortly after the twins died, we decided to adopt. We felt led to adopt kids with special needs so we adopted Daniel first. He has a congenital brain abnormality. A year and a half later, we brought Willow home. She has neuromuscular disease. Soon after that, Noah was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. That's a lot of quirky kids in the same house! We've had to watch our kids go through hospitalizations, surgeries, therapies and appointments of all kinds. We've agonized over decisions for their health and well being. We've prayed. We've cried a lot of tears.
It hasn't been an easy road. In fact, its been a lot of hard work and a lot of clinging to an unyielding promise to love each other in spite of. . . In spite of trials, in spite of circumstances, in spite of bad attitudes and changes you can't stop from happening. Life is hard for anyone. It seems like we've chosen a more difficult path than some, yet God continues to bless us and provide for us. He shields us and goes to battle on our behalf. . . "But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high." Psalm 3:3